You know how that one incident can change your life forever? It affects you so much that you never completely recover from it. Even though you desperately try to convince yourself otherwise, subconsciously you are still bound to the memories and it occasionally invades your dreams and becomes the object of your nightmares. I never expected my first time to be this way. To be honest, I really don’t know what my expectation was, but I definitely knew I didn’t expect what happened.
I have had my fair share of make-outs but have never gone all the way. It isn’t due to lack of opportunities; I had a good number of opportunities back in secondary school but I always flunked out at the last minute. I know it had a lot to do with my stern upbringing as a Baptist. In my house, the children were made to believe that the two greatest evils in the world are the devil and the feminine gender (this is contestable), with the latter being a powerful weapon for the former (remember Adam in the garden). So I grew up unsure of what to make of the feminine gender and my mother made matters worse as she never ceased to hammer it into my head (every opportunity she got) “if you touch a girl, she would get pregnant for you” (as if it were that easy). And then she would go on and on and on… “If you want to bring shame upon yourself, that is not my problem, but I would not allow you to bring shame upon this family. You will not drag the name of this family in the mud, So ti gbo?” At this point (as if on cue), my father would intercept with his all-time favorite adage “A ki n kanju la obe gbona” which roughly translates in English as “You don’t hastily devour steaming hot soup”.
Although my parents did their best to keep me on the right path, as I approached puberty, curiosity and peer -pressure got the best of me. It actually started with a sneak peek through the keyhole of the bathroom door whenever our housegirl, Maria was inside and I always tried to make sure nobody was around to see me. That ended quite dramatically as not up to a month later, Maria caught me and she threatened to report me to my mother. I knew the consequences would be dire if she did, so I pleaded with her, promising her half of my weekly pocket money. I had to do something to protect myself just incase Maria changed her mind. So I told my mother that Maria had been bringing different men into the house when nobody was at home. Imagine my mother’s reaction? She went ballistic, beating the daylight out of the poor girl before sending her packing. I didn’t see that coming, but it made the situation better. My secret was safe.
The dismissal of Maria meant that I had to find another means of satisfying my teenage lust and I found solace in a magazine called Lolly – an illustrative comic about the raunchy adventures of randy Mr. Nackson. My childhood buddie, Adeola, would sneak into his brother’s room and steal editions of the magazine which he’d then bring to my house. We would hide in the empty housegirl’s room to read it. Occasionally he brought Better Lovers along too, which I liked better. It had more colourful pictures than Lolly, which was predominantly black and white. I remember the time I tried to buy Lolly myself under the guise that I was sent by my brother, the stupid vendor Adamu (I am still angry at him) collected my money (two weeks of saving) and didn’t give me any magazine. He threatened to beat me, and promised to report me to my mother if I ever came back again, so I solely relied on Adeola to supply me with the magazines. Soon I graduated from reading Ikebe Super to watching blue films and it was in one of such movies that I learnt about masturbation. I decided to try it out. It was a very nasty experience for me, I was all sticky and messy, and Adeola never stopped teasing me about it. So I never tried it again.
The first time I kissed a girl, I was frenzied for the whole night. It was at a friend’s sixteenth birthday party. It wasn’t the kiss that got me wired up; rather it was the making of the kiss. The chit chat, the subtle body language, the intentional accidental touch to the neck and cheeks, and the groping on the dance floor; all of these got me excited that by the time I made the move to kiss her, I was sure she wouldn’t resist. I must admit, I was a bit clumsy. I was clueless as to what kissing entailed. I covered the poor girl’s face with saliva, and even bit her lower lip, but that marked the beginning of my sensual adventures. By the time I finished from secondary school, I had done every other thing except the main thing.
I flunked my JAMB examination, so I had to stay at home for a year. It was during this period I met Omaede. Her family just moved into the neighborhood. Then her mother met my mother at the salon, and she invited her to church. One thing led to another, and the two families became friends. My mother even suggested that Omaede should enroll at the same JAMB tutorial I attended, which her mother agreed to. And that was how Omaede and I became friends.
My second attempt at JAMB was a lot better, and I was offered admission to study biochemistry in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. I was so excited. But my excitement was short-lived when I learnt Omaede wasn’t selected, because we picked the same school. I tried my best to console her, using myself as an example. Since it was her first time, I reminded her that I had also flunked my first attempt, and I guessed this cheered her up a bit.
As the time for me to leave for school drew closer, she became moody as each day passed, always telling me she was going to miss me. So we ended up spending a lot of time together during that period. It was then I noticed some funny changes: she stopped shaking my hands and started hugging me; her hugs were a little tighter, and lasted a little longer. She held my hand often and made other subtle advances like that. Up until that time, my relationship with Omaede had been like a brother-sister thing (though I am a year older than her anyway). I can’t deny that we were very close; just the same way I can’t ascertain that whether what we had qualified as dating. But now, I sensed there was something more, even though I couldn’t really explain it.
Something happened about a week to when I was to leave for school. It was a Friday morning, and we were in her room chatting (we normally hung out in her room whenever her parents weren’t at home). I told her that I couldn’t wait to leave for school. I was looking forward to the new environment, the new faces, and the excitement that came with it. Omaede’s response dazed me, “I knew it. I knew you can’t wait to run to school so you can meet enough girls. I knew you didn’t really like me that much… you just don’t want to tell me”. This took me by surprise, and for the next couple of minutes I was silent. I did not know what to say. “You see… you can’t say anything ‘cos you know am right…” she added. Considering the fact that she has been moody lately, I should have known something was on her mind. I can’t remember the exact things I said but tried to explain to her that I really did like her. Just when I thought I had done enough to convince her, Omaede asked me to prove it. ‘Prove what?’ I asked. “Prove that you really like me as you said”. “Show me how much you really like me”, she added. How do you prove you like someone? How do you show how much you like someone? So I just ran on impulse.
I pulled her closer, and held her in a tight embrace. She put up feeble resistance, but that didn’t stop me. Still locked in the embrace, she made me promise not to forget her when I get to school. One thing led to another; I patted her back, rubbed her shoulder, and kissed her neck while she held me tightly as if her life depended on it. I kissed her and she kissed me back. And I must confess, it was amazing. All this while we had built up some much sexual tension that letting it all out was electrifying. I pulled up her shirt and reached behind her to unclasp her bra. She stepped back, breaking off the kiss; gently sliding the shirt off her shoulder, she unhooked her bra, letting it fall off her tender breasts. The moment her breasts were bare, she turned her face away averting my eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off her breast and reached out to touch it. She jerked as my hand touched her nipples.
Just then a crazy thought entered my head. You know when you assume you know so much about a person it never occurrs to you that you might be wrong. I pulled her closer and whispered into her ears, ‘Have you done this before?’, she didn’t say anything but she shook her head. ‘Are you a virgin?’ she nodded slightly. I was so scared. Being a virgin is scary enough, but when two of you are virgins? Damn! I knew I couldn’t go on. I hugged her tight, feeling her warm flesh on my body, and she started crying on my shoulder. I cuddled her, and told her she was very special and that I loved her (and I think I really meant it). I wiped her tears and we kissed again, softer and deeper. I helped her dress up, and we lay quietly on her bed with her head on my chest.
After she had calmed down, we went to the bank together because I had to pay my acceptance fee. While I was on the queue, Omaede went outside to get recharge voucher for her phone. I didn’t mind because I had noticed a pretty girl on the queue, and I figured that if she is on the acceptance fee queue, then we must be heading for the same school. In the course of filling out my teller, I initiated a chat with her. I was right! We were indeed heading for the same school. So I got her name, and phone number.
As I stepped out of the bank’s metal detector, I heard series of gunshots. People ran helter-skelter, and I joined them. If the gunshots were from armed robbers, then going back inside the bank wasn’t a safe choice. I dove behind the public toilet by the wall, only to collide with the bank’s uniformed security man already hiding there. Squeezing into this tight space wasn’t easy but I had no choice. The blaring of the police sirens were followed by rounds of sporadic shooting. The crossfire went on for about five minutes, then the sounds faded.
When everything had calmed down, I got out of my hiding place laughing at the security man scrambling behind me. I called Omaede but she didn’t pick up. I knew she must be annoyed with me for leaving her alone. I called her again and she still didn’t pick up. I knew Omaede could be very stubborn sometimes. As I walked down the road past the recharge voucher vendor, I saw Omaede’s bag on the ground. Imagine Omaede ran for safety and left her bag behind. No wonder she didn’t pick my call. I picked up her bag, and asked the sales woman if she saw the girl that owns the bag. The woman screamed and broke into sobs “Yepa… Omolomo!“, placing both hands on her head. Where I come from, this gesture is a terrible sign – I didn’t have to wait for her to answer me.
Two men carried Omaede’s body from the ground and placed her on the bench by the bus stop as people started gathering. There was a big red mess around her stomach where the bullet had gone in, and her head hung to the side. I rushed to her side pulling her to myself. “Somebody please help me!” I shouted. I sat on the ground, with Omaede on my chest. With every drop of blood she was losing, her life was bleeding out of her and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The warm flesh that had turned me on a few hours ago, was now cold.
Three days ago, a stray bullet fatally hit Omaede while the police chased down a gang of armed robbers in broad daylight. She was buried today, and I didn’t attend the burial. I am a psychological wreck. I haven’t tasted anything for the past three days, and sleeping has been very difficult. Mother has been very worried and she is sitting beside me on the bed in my room. “Oko mi, jo o. Jo nitori Oloun, jeun. Mo f’ Oloun Oba be e. Wo, ti e je die, Ko fi kan enu“. I was an emotional whirlwind. Grief, love, hate, anger, vengeance, and regret all racing through my seventeen -year old mind. This was too much for me to bear. I broke into tears again for the upteenth time that day. “Why did she have to die a virgin?” I mumbled.
I didn’t know I had said it out loud until my confused mother asked, “What do you mean? How did you know she died a virgin?” On a different day, I would have been scared of my mother finding out about what happened between me and Omaede the day she died, but grief has a way of making you care less about such things. I told her everything that happened that day, and I watched my mother’s face undergo a transformation from grief to disbelief, to shock, and to anger. I can imagine what must have been going through her mind, but I really did not care. I knew she would never see me as that innocent son of hers again. I kept thinking, if we had stayed back and had sex together then we wouldn’t have been anywhere near the bank at that time, and Omaede wouldn’t have been hit by a stray bullet. Omaede would still be alive.
The loss of a loved one has a weird way of affecting the mind and the memory. It is funny how I start to refer to things in respect to Omaede. When I hear a song now, my mind goes like “the song Omaede loved dancing to”; or I see a nice blue scarf, and my mind goes “the colour Omaede liked wearing on weekends”; and the same way I look at the calendar and realise today makes it exactly a year that Omaede died.
For those of you that are wondering why I called this the first time I did it, I have this for you: where I come from, if a woman gives birth to a set of twins and one dies at birth, you don’t question the woman if she tells you that the dead baby travelled to America.
Dedicated to Adeola Alao (1985-2009).
For the love you sought, and the love you gave.